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Victim?! Hell, Scooter Libby Got Off Easy


*UPDATE — Henry Waxman has just announced that he will hold hearings on the disclosure of Valerie Plame Wilson's identity.  "In addition, the Committee today sent a letter to Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald commending him for his investigation and requesting a meeting to discuss testimony by Mr. Fitzgerald before the Committee."  Oh yeah… — JH

Continuing on with Scooter Libby pardon pushback morning here at FDL… I see from Jane's post below that the wingnut Wurlitzer is referring to poor Lewis "I'm middle-aged, but call me Scooter" Libby as the Jean Valjean of perjurers, unfairly persecuted for a few inadvertent, innocuous lies (and, um, some innocuous obstruction of justice, too, apparently).

But a quick glance at some of the facts makes clear that special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald wasn't desperately hunting for any stray inconsistency or minor falsehood on which to indict Libby — because he left plenty of suspicious statements and insufficiently explained events on the table.  For instance, there's the remarkable coincidence by which Scooter testified that he was the person who told Time magazine's Matt Cooper about Joe Wilson's wife working for the CIA, rather than merely confirming Cooper's inquiry… even as Karl Rove, Cooper's true source, was conveniently forgetting to mention the conversation in his testimony.  Smells like an obvious conspiracy to obstruct justice to me, but Fitzgerald chose not to pursue an indictment on those grounds.

And then there's the curious discovery that Robert Novak talked to Libby during the week after Wilson went public with his criticisms of the Corleone Bush administration, even though Libby had testified that no such conversation occurred.  If Fitz was going to indict Libby on every inconsistency he could find, why not that glaring one?

Speaking of the Novak-Libby chat, emptywheel famously inferred that it had happened based on newspaper accounts of Libby's grand jury testimony that magically appeared the day Judith Miller was scheduled to testify.  EW's now-vindicated analysis was based on the assumption that the media leaks were intended to coach Judy in what to say under oath; if Fitz was so hell-bent for indictments, why not a count of obstruction of justice for that?

Moreover, we learned from the trial replays of Libby's grand jury testimony that he had dipped his hand into some other witness-related cookie jars as well, calling Tim Russert directly around the time of Libby's first grand jury appearance, and some run-ins with Ari Fleischer as well:

Q. And have you talked to Ari Fleischer since he left government?

A. No, sir. Oh, I'm sorry. . . . Yes, I saw him at a basketball game, and I think I saw him around the White House — more than once, I think. I think I've seen him at some receptions at the White House. It's tricky about this since he left government part — he's gotten married and I've run into him with his wife, I think. Anyway, I definitely saw him at a basketball game.

Q. Have you talked to him at all about this matter since he's left government?

A. Not that I know of. (NOTE: In the audio, there are muffled laughs in grand jury room — S.) Was that a strange answer?

Q. Yes.

A. No. Sorry. I, I don't think so. At the basketball game he asked me how things were doing, things were going okay, that sort of thing. I don't think we've talked in any detail about this matter.

Libby had a similarly "undetailed" conversation with his boss, Dick Cheney, after discovering there was proof the VP had told him about Joe Wilson's wife a full month earlier than Libby would claim having heard about it from Tim Russert.

A truly vindictive prosecutor could have pursued indictments for perjury or obstruction of justice in all these instances. Scooter Libby should thank his lucky stars that Pat Fitzgerald was more discerning.

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Swopa has been sharing prescient, if somewhat anal-retentive, analysis and garden-variety mockery with Internet readers since 1995 or so, when he began debunking the fantasies of Clinton-scandal aficionados on Usenet. He is currently esconced as the primary poster at Needlenose (